The role of domestic violence in parental alienation

More from the book which we are working on today.

Nick Woodall

Parental alienation is the enactment of power and control over a targeted parent through a child or children by an alienating parent. To that extent, it falls within the widely accepted definitions of domestic violence and abuse (i) which are enshrined in legislation and policy around the world. However, in our experience, whilst domestic violence and abuse may be recognised as an element of the relationship between parents in dispute over children matters, the professionals who advise the courts rarely, if ever, approach the case with an understanding that a child’s rejecting position may be the extension of a pattern of domestic abuse that has been present between the parents whilst the family was together.

Around the world, domestic violence and abuse is almost exclusively set within a feminist framework which argues that it is ‘a consequence of the inequalities between men and women, rooted in patriarchal traditions that encourage…

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  1. Though important in its entirety, I thought it might be helpful for us to have a summary, so I’ve had a go.

    “International research has clearly demonstrated that the domestic violence and abuse that women and men may each variously inflict, and be subject to – is the result of issues such as individual pathology, substance misuse, and relationship dysfunction – RATHER than the feminist perception of a problem rooted in a universal gender power imbalance.

    A ‘Generational Model’ approach to family conflict and breakdown would enable understanding that a child’s rejecting position of a parent following separation likely to be illustrative of abuse dynamics in place while the family was together – indicating family therapy intervention and treatment as being necessary”.


  2. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that many Woman every day suffer physical and verbal abuse on a regular basis by their Husband or partner. This cannot be tolerated and often the catalyst to the abuse is alcohol, certainly Children see too many nightmarish situations that can stay with them for life. In many cases Mothers have no where to go and suffer only to keep a roof over their Children. In these situations Mothers require more help and understanding. Early on in a marriage or living with someone certain young Men require to be educated in the importance of equality and they only make up 50% of a partnership and to take responsibility. When Children come along it is then to late to be a good Father, early years of a Child is crucial in a Child’s development and all Fathers to be, should be forced to go on Parental courses.

    If you are lucky and have good Parents and Grandparents you can learn the basics, but the pressures of modern life and the importance of financial planning is crucial and lends itself to plan for the patter of tiny feet. Lack of good accommodation puts a strain on young couples and often due to many pressures some young Parents use alcohol as a pressure valve, which makes matters worse. It is a great responsibility to be a Parent and it certainly changes your life, however well planed and showing respect to ones partner makes marriage and Parenthood so much worth all that effort. There is nothing more precious than your Children.

    Having said all that there is many good and responsible Husbands, Patners and Fathers who invest their efforts body and sole in their Families without a second thought. Of course all partnerships can have problems and Children can be challenging, I often ask Parents “do you know what is the British disease” then I reply it is the teenager? As the family matures everyone has their memories of the likes of holidays and Chritmases, it is important that a Child’s memories are warm and comforting and not about violence or seeing their Mother being beaten by their Father. Equally, many Males have been seen being beaten by their wives and partners which Children have also observed.

    Due to the history going back decades it has always been assumed that it is only the male that is violent, in today’s world more and more Females have been found guilty of violence to their Husband or Partner. It has also became evident that there is more to allegations of violence towards females that is certainly not as straight forward as it appears. This can be because one of the Parents is having an affair and the third party wishes to eliminate their rival by any other means including conspiracy to make false allegations of abuse.

    Society will always adopt a leaning of sympathy towards the Female when there is any dubious talk of domestic violence. However, regardless how much the Male protests his innocence he is not given an equal opportunity to be believed. Given to all the past horrendous public cases of abuse and indeed murder it is important that everyone is open minded but I can understand where we have come from. The attitude has been that all Men can be dangerous and Femaes always tell the truth. This is clearly not the case, I have spoken to many young Fathers in Court buildings who were involved in Child custody cases. A pattern seems to be emerging in so many cases that the Father has been accused of Child and Female abuse.

    Abusive allegations can sometimes be used as a delaying tactic to destroy a Parent from having contact with their Child. Often in the main it is the Father but it can be sometimes the Mother who cannot proceed with a Court battle (I cannot emphasise so much that everything about Child custody is a battle if not it is a WAR) as it has become financially and psychologically strained, leading to withdraw. For a Parent to walk away from their Child due to lack of resources or ill health is so unfortunate.

    Please I beg everyone, do not damage your Children and find compromise, put the long term wellbeing of your Children first and do not use them as a tool in a domestic war using the Children as ammunition from your arsenal of weapons. It is too easy to get lost in a mist of hate and be driven to lie and brainwash your Children against your Patner. For me one of the sad aspects of Parental Alienation is the unfortunate situations whereby organisations and agencies so early on take sides with one of the Parents. It is vital for all Children’s safety that authorities keep an open mind, seek out the evidence and listen.

    Yes there is many Men that do not deserve to be called a Father or a husband, but never be mislead there are some Woman that will make false allegations and deny her Children the opportunity to having a loving relationship with their Father for no good reason other than her own selfishness. Children deserve contact with both Parents. For a good decent responsible Father to be alienated from his Children is so cruel and damaging to the Children. It is a nonsense to keep a loving caring Father from his Children especially when you consider some Fathers have never paid a penny towards their Children’s welfare and have no interest in seeing their Children. We must encourage and support good Fathers to have regular access with their Children, it is also good for Children to have good role models in their lives.

    My understanding of Parental Alienation is that the Parent who has been Alienated whether it is the Father or Mother has a massive disadvantage as they have the difficulty in restoring a normal relationship with their Children. I do believe that some Children are not necessary brainwashed but goes with the flow of the Parent who is doing the Alienation in order just to survive in a very difficult reduced Family unit. They miss and want to be with the other Parent but it is easier and less hostile to burry everything to the back of their mind.

    In cases of Alienation the Children are being put through indescribable pressures and this is cruel and abusive. This is where their is a role for decent Grandparents to be involved. If as a Grandparent you feel your Son or Daughter has Alienated your Grandchild from their other Parent you have got to be the responsible person and under no circumstances allow your Child to Alienate your Grandchildren from their other Parent. Parental Alienation is carcinogenic by spreading poison throughout the wider Family making all hostile to decency and compromise. Solutions can be found by good will on all sides and never lose the fact that when Parental Alienation enters the Family unit is nothing other than hatred and a catalyst to destroying Children’s Childhoods.

    Without a shadow of doubt neither the Court system or Social Work is a route to go down to seek harmony. What is required is more specially trained individuals who have the experience to identify the presence of Parental Alienation and how to find a balanced solution never forgetting it is the Child that is most important. At this moment in time £millions are being wasted in budgets of Local Authorities, NHS and the Justice System. It is as simple as this, unless Goverments, the Judiciary, Social Services and other Children/Family agencies can accept the actions of one Parent against the other in order to Alienate that Parent, damages the Children involved is Parental Alienation, no Family is safe from falling into the depths of the darkest miserable abyss.

    Please keep talking about P. A. Please tell everyone you meet how it destroys lives, there has been many Parents who took their own lives. Please tell them how it confuses and damages Children. Please highlight how it has damaged your health and happiness. Please explain to people the Financial implications and how the costs involved have impacted on your life. Please discuss how you fell being let down by whoever. Most importantly please tell people how it feels to continually tell the truth and not be believed.

    If it is all becoming to much for you, please seek help as the only way you will make successful progress is by looking after yourself. Go into meetings positive even although it is likely to be hostile, keep writing and complaining if you are not making good progress. I found to complain does not necessary help you but it gives me a way of venting my frustration. Never ever say to any person in authority that you are angry, just call your anger frustration. I am full, very full, extremely very full of frustration. People relate anger with violence. I understand you are hurting, you feel you cannot take anymore, where is the answers to your pain. There is no answers, only hard work and frustration, you need a lot of luck and most importantly a good team consisting of Solicitor and specialist in PA and there is very few of them due to the reluctance for P A being nationally recognised. What is going through your mind is, how is my lovely Child coping and do they still remind and love me. Unless the Children are under three and not seen you for several years they will still have memories of different degrees. A trained specialist in PA has methods to confirm memories so do not put yourself through unnecessary pain and worry. I write a lot as this is part of my Grandfather therapy.

    Finally, be prepared that it could take four, five or more years and may not be successful, but for some Parents that have not come to terms with the situation they feel guilty every day in their life by throwing in the Towel and may never see their Children again. In these situations no one takes it lightly but please try and fight on as I do believe due to PA being seen as some sort of mythical type of psychology the UK Government will adopt an act or policy covering the outcomes of false allegations leading to a Child being Alienated from a Parent, this horrible behaviour has to be illegal. So please keep fighting and I wish you and yours every success for future happiness for one and all.


    1. Erm…”all Fathers to be, should be forced to go on Parental courses”? Isn’t the assumption here that mothers to be DON’T need to – that they instinctively know how to be good parents – whereas, in complete contrast…we men have to be taught?

      It may have just been a slip…given your sympathy – it just shows what a minefield this area is.

      Certainly this CAN be true – but so often will NOT be that – that I don’t think we should have ANY such assumptions.

      It might be important to highlight parenting courses for new parents…but the problems tend to show up rather further along the line, don’t they? Couldn’t – shouldn’t – we keep track of family development throughout children’s lives up to 18?

      I believe this will have been an aim of the extraordinary and pioneering Peckham Health Centre in the 1920’s. OK, it was easier because family life was generally much more stable then – but is such a principle invalid?

      Perhaps, though, the first instruction could be that children need to maintain the closest possible daily relationship with both supportive biological parents for the duration of their upbringing – making separation (as it seems most often assumed to be today) virtually impossible…without seriously harming the child, and that any separation at all (however carefully managed) is highly likely to be damaging to the child.

      You want to damage your precious child? Then separate.

      I’ve yet to hear of Family Services NOT insisting on separation in any situation of conflict – they’ve obviously not heard of conflict resolution…

      In our family situation there was a lot of conflict – it was clearly planned to be that way by my wife from the start…anyone could have picked that up. Even so, the separation when it happened has proved 100 times more damaging for the children – than any of the conflict ever was.

      The feminist perspective is dominated by hatred, not rationality. I hope some day my daughter will be able to tell them that. At the moment she’s just caught up struggling with their violence to her life.


      1. I am sympathetic to any Parent that has unfortunately and cruelly been alienated but I am sorry so many young Fathers leave the Mother literally holding the baby and can be reluctant in sharing the domestic duties. I must admit I personally could have done more. Many Young Mothers also hold down a job, and if we are honest most Men would agree that one of the hardest jobs is a Mother and a Housewife.

        The Female gender lends itself more to naturally bond with the Children, but it may be better if both Parents took an interest towards the familiarisation of Parenthood I give you that and my apologies. We should not get to caught up in gender issues as that unfortunate subject is best left to be procured and most certainly wrongly adopted and practiced by certain agencies and Local Authorities. In my opinion Parental Alienation can best be treated by openness, honesty and with a skilled practitioner who treats all the Family not just the Child.


      2. Dear ‘Yahnala’,

        Thank you for appreciating the point. There are several more.

        I’m not condoning it, but the reluctance of men to get involved that you describe – has to be understood against an overall backdrop that men sense (correctly, most often) that overwhelmingly, women’s primary demand of them is as much as ever to be focused on being a financial provider figure – so that the more they take on domestic work it will actually prove highly dangerous for them – seriously risking undermining their long term viability and security as partners and parents.

        It has been shown time after time here throughout the developed world that such a negative end result is highly likely to be the case. Men who have found themselves in role-reversal situations taking on traditional female functions often experience the worst possible prejudice from Family Services, if (and most likely, when) the relationship gets into trouble.

        The devastating assumption in these circles is still so much EXACTLY the one you describe i.e. – that “The Female gender lends itself more to naturally bond with the Children” – that the increasing amount of situations where the REVERSE is actually the reality – are implacably unable to be accepted.

        Consequently a parent who is in reality far MORE nurturing is often being removed, and a parent who is far LESS so (and who may actually be highly exploitative of the children) is mindlessly reinforced in charge instead…thereby causing devastation to the entire family.

        With role-reversal, the contrast in attitude could typically not be more stark. When women take on the nurturing role, then yes, many “Men would agree that one of the hardest jobs is a Mother and a Housewife”. However when men do the very same job (however well) when confronted with the retrogressive Family Court system, they are likely to be castigated as ‘lazy’ – despised as ‘cowards running away from their responsibilities’.

        When either gender has been endlessly conditioned (unconsciously prepared) throughout their lives to take on a particular role in adulthood – then it is not surprising if many are seemingly able to function in that role with less effort. The gender feminist women’s movement, however, has been largely extraordinarily two-faced and duplicitous…demanding any such barriers be broken down for THEM in the workplace – whilst at the same time furiously excluding men from the tremendous power and privileges (the ability to shape the future world) that are actually integral to taking on the nurturing role for the next generation. For them…it’s been all take – and no give.

        I tried to get our own situation referred to Family Therapy but the Judge refused, superficially on the basis that it would cost too much money. However, the genuine ‘whole family’ work you describe, is, in any case – so rare as to be practically non-existent for most – and the chances of getting it almost zero.


      3. Woodman I don’t think I agree that the whole family work is so rare as to be practically non existent, neither do I agree that the chances of getting it are almost zero…that is what we do and that is what increasing numbers of families are getting..and if we can increase our provision, even more will get it. It is a fight I agree but it is not true to say the chances of getting it are almost zero.


      4. I’m sorry Karen – it wasn’t meant at all to minimize the importance of your work for those able to access it.

        But my every experience of asking for help over a period of at least five years is to have met with total resistance and complete refusal for meaningful engagement from any quarter…i.e. any aspect of the school service (including special needs), NHS services (both GP and CAMHS), Religious, Council Services, Social Services, Police, Family Court (of course).

        Where do we turn? It’s hard to imagine that anything other than a local resource would be practical for our family. Even the most sympathetic of people seem to throw up their hands and protest that it is all very unfortunate – but that nothing can be done.


      5. NO don’t be sorry Woodman, I just don’t want people to think it is impossible to get the help that really helps because it isn’t that’s all. K


  3. “A Generational Model of analysis of power and control patterns”

    All humans have a history of influence upon each other that can be traced back perhaps 2.5 million years to the Pleistocene period. It is perhaps a combination of the genetic and environmental influences throughout time that makes individuals the personalities that they are.

    If positive behavioural changes are to take place that would benefit humanity then individuals will have to take on the personal responsibility of “better” enable these changes to take place. It is our ability to think and act and interact that creates potential positive possibilities in considered human development.

    The essential question we must ask ourselves is do we want to live in a divisive world or a complimentary one? Do we prefer to be right or be at peace?

    Whilst men’s ability to defer to the notion that women are both vulnerable and more important to our children’s development than men is enshrined in law, his connection with his children will continue to be weakened. Only recently a political manifesto purports that women should be let out of jail early on special privilege on account of having to look after their children……..note no such privilege was suggested for fathers.

    kind regards


    1. Yes it is. I have written about it quite a lot and gave a webinar on the subject last year with Nick which you can still get at PAAO.


  4. Woodman, I have met many Fathers who are tortured souls as I am in my role as a Grandfather whereby I worry for my Son and his Daughter. At one point my Son was very ill and I don’t think any Parent or Grandparent who has been Alienated from a Child will ever loose the scars. It has taken me years to calm down, nevertheless I keep fighting everyone that has worked against my Family. I am taking an action against a Solicitor, the NHS probably and definitely against my Local Authority and Social Work.

    These people have made my families position much more harder to have Contact with my Granddaughter and I intended to recover the thousands of pounds my Family are out of pocket, also in order to pay for further fees. I always try to approach things with an open mind and a balanced view, that is why I try and view P A as an illness in the Family and how do we make things best for the Children. My Daughter in law has been so very cruel and selfish but I don’t judge all Women the same.

    I personally are an old fashioned Mans Man and as much as I have wrongly been handicap by Woman’s Agencies I still accept they are necessary as there are some evil Men out there, equally there is some disgusting Mothers.

    Two things that I don’t hear much spoken about is if the Parent who is doing the Alienating is supported by a Partner they were having an affair with. That new partner will do all they can to stop the other Parent coming to the house to see their Children, that Person can be the catalyst to design the Alienation. The other is that in most cases wilfully stoping your Child to see the other loving Parent is neither natural or good for the Children involved. So what type of Parent would hurt their Child in this way, yes probably a nasty person but could they be suffering from learning difficulties, behavioural abnormalities and indeed full mental health problems. Given the lengths people go to Alienate their partner the damage to the Children I do believe that a large amount of Parents that do the Alienating have some sort of Mental Health issues.

    Why do we have so many cases of Alienation? I don’t have that answer but clearly it is compounded by ignorance of Social Workers, Agencies and the Courts unable to understand the concept of PAS. At the moment what works best is the expertise, understanding Children and the ability by specialist like Karen Woodall to,get to the truth and diagnoses the presence of PA, experts treat and work with the Family. I recently responded to a blog and said the Goverment or a Philanthropist must fund programmes like Karen’s Clinic to be a foundation of excellence and train more Practitioners to be able to treat Families. If you think about it, the wasted money from the NHS, Social Work and the Justice system would be better spent in early intervention avoiding the years of torture? To do this more trained Practioners are essential.

    Please Woodman do not think that I am not on your side, I will always support any Parent who is so cruelly be prevented from seeing their Children. Believe you me I am a Champion of lost causes. The time and effort I have put in to challenge incompetent organisations regarding my Granddaughters case is exhausting. The reason I have had 78 complaints with the Ombudsman is to ensure further Families do not suffer the same pain as my Family.

    Regardless of the stupid false allegations made against my Son and I the Establishment do believe my Daughter in law and do not realise or even care that by wrongly protecting Mum only pores more misery on the Child. I worked in a Local Authority and when mistakes are made unfortunately denial sets in and staff are only mindful of one thing, protecting their own career. I have in the past had some changes made to Social Work practises but I have much more to do. In their defence they have poor Senior Management support and an extreme lack of resources and in particular morale.

    I am sorry to say unless we have more genuine, caring and honest Politicians it will take decades before things even become remotely acceptable.

    Maybe we all should bombard the new Prime Ministers mail bag, just a thought. There is so much energy out there produced by so many good people, perhaps it is required to be harvested in a more productive way.

    Woodman, I wish you well and hope you will find some comfort and happiness. I get down now and then, I am handling things better now. I just recently became a Gandfather for the second time which is so joyful. Regardless I am driven with a passion and determination to hug and cuddle my wee Darling by the year end. I am driven to help other Families to avoid the scars we carry. I am driven to teach a lesson to the most unhelpful people that should not be working with Children as they are blinkered and unwilling to tell the truth.


    1. Hi Yahnala,

      It is truly wonderful to see a father fighting SO valiantly for his son and grandchildren – my father has been completely lacking, in comparison…for reasons such as he was ‘never that interested in having grandchildren in the first place’, that I choose the ‘wrong woman’ (non-Protestant, black) and that if my life had been focussed on the traditional value of earning…instead of caring for the children, then I would not have been SO badly affected now (a drop in heart function enough to require a pacemaker – which I have refused, since it is a somatic problem…with a psychological origin).

      Why are we seeing so much alienation? Because we have witnessed the collapse of the traditional value of lifetime commitment in relationship – to be replaced by serial monogamy (with either gender).

      In all this, the children are hardly considered. Personally, I believe that in most cases, children need a continuing stability of relationship with both biological parents and that the process of separation is therefore – in itself – INHERENTLY alienating – that is, UNLESS so many counter-measures are put in place – that there would be little point in the parents separating in the first place.

      This very rarely happens, and is why gender feminists absolutely LOVE separation – it is their number one weapon in eliminating male influence on the children’s lives. If they can achieve a 90% success rate in doing this – then the 10% where they don’t and the women end up suffering instead is, as Karen has explained – considered an unfortunate but necessary collateral damage in pursuit of their main victory.

      Success has been achieved because along with the ‘new morality’ of separation, the ‘old morality’ of women’s superiority with children – has been RETAINED. So the children go wherever the mother goes. End of story.

      I very much understand the need for variety in relationship over a lifetime. It’s just obvious that as long as serial monogamy is promoted as THE way to achieve that – then the children will suffer a lot. Shared parenting would certainly help reduce the suffering…but not resolve it. In any case, in many situations, shared parenting is simply not feasible, and even if it was, could still be highly likely to be problematic for the child.

      Children (as well as adults) – do benefit hugely from variety – but not at the expense of stability and consistency.

      Making residency dependent on high levels of communication and cooperation from whoever is to be the resident partner – would make an enormous difference, but really, there is a need to entirely rethink the nature of adult relationships – if we are to resolve the problem of alienation.

      A film is now underway about Tamera – a 35 year old community in Europe exploring alternatives to the idea of ‘the one’.

      Since this is such an established community, it really will be fantastic to see what has been achieved, and especially for the children who have grown up in it.


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